Possible penalties for unintentional violation of copyright law?

In 2008, I purchased the Your Baby Can Read program from someone on Ebay for $125.00 (my oldest daughter was almost 2 and my youngest was in utero). Earlier this year, when my youngest turned 3, I decided I would no longer be needing the program and instead of throwing it away, I re-listed it on Ebay to try and recoup a little bit of my money. I initially listed it for $75.00, then dropped the price to $60 and then to $50 at which time it sold. Shortly after the item was delivered, I received an email from the buyer stating the item was “copied,” that she wanted a refund and that she had contacted “Your Baby Can Read.” If the item was, in fact copied, I certainly did not know it – what are the possible ramifications of this situation for me?

Additional information
I have already refunded the buyer’s money but now she is not communicating with me. It is doubtful I will ever get the DVD’s back. I can no longer prove who I received the item from. Ebay does not keep transaction records back that far. PayPal does, however and I have figured out which PayPal transaction was the one where I purchased this item, but PayPal does not appear to have information concerning what was purchased. So, I have the information, I know who I purchased it from, but may not have sufficient proof for them to go after the person who sold it to me.

A: This is probably just a case of an unethical buyer lying to get his or her money back. However, it sounds like you’ve done everything you can. While it is true that the penalties for copyright violation can be quite severe (as I can tell you from having litigated these cases in federal court), it seems unlikely that you will hear from anyone more about this.

Published By:

Gunderson, Denton & Peterson, P.C.
1930 N. Arboleda, Suite 201
Mesa, Arizona 85213
Office: 480-655-7440
Fax: 480-655-7099

* This answer does not constitute legal advice. I am admitted in the State of Arizona only. This advice is based on general principles of law that may or may not relate to your specific situation. Facts and laws change and these possible changes will affect the advice provided here. You should not rely on this advice alone, and nothing in these communications creates an attorney-client relationship.

By , Mesa litigation attorney.
Re-posted from AVVO Legal Questions & Answers.

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